Earth 2: World's End #22: Batman, meet your sidekick

Every week, we speak with author Daniel H. Wilson for a detailed recap of Earth 2: World’s End, the weekly DC Comics title he’s spearheading about an alternate earth devastated by its prolonged war with Apokolips. The comic is instrumental in the lead-up to the publisher's upcoming Convergence event, and in this Blastr exclusive we explore the issue with Wilson -- and offer a sneak peek at what readers can look for in its final installments.

As Apokolips literally engulfs Earth-2, Jimmy Olsen goes New God on Kalibak, Green Lantern hears voices in his head, and Thomas Wayne makes an impact on, and all around, Dick Grayson. Also, Daniel Wilson talks A.I. and being pro-bot.

You’re so steeped in the Earth 2: World’s End and upcoming Earth 2: Society books, but what are you personally into these days?

I’m looking at my shelf to see what I’m reading; it’s always a pile. I have been giving a lot of talks recently. I am giving a talk at the Human Robotics Interaction Conference, and have been reading a lot about robotics and artificial intelligence. In particular, I’ve been catching up on my research and figuring out why all the billionaires are scared of A.I. apocalypse/Robopocalypse. I’m referring to Elon Musk contributing $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, and, of course, to Bill Gates making comments. Then, Stephen Hawking lately is very afraid of A.I., of the Singularity. I’ve been reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence and James Barrat’s Our Final Invention, and basically vehemently disagreeing with everything they’re writing.

So, unsurprisingly, I’ve been nerding out about the Robopocalypse still.

How is this research going to be reflected in your upcoming work?

I am writing this screenplay for Lionsgate called Alpha with Plan B [Brad Pitt’s production company]. Although there was just an article the other day that made me sad. The movie Big Hero 6 was based on my graduate school advisor Chris Atkeson’s research on inflatable medical robots. He is interviewed in The Escapist Magazine and mentioned me; he said he was "saddened" his student decided to portray robots in a negative light with the Robopocalypse. I just dashed off an email to him letting him know that my latest project is very pro-robot. He will be very happy whenever he sees it. The robots are heroes, instead of villains.

On to the issue. We begin with Alan Scott trying to stop Apokolips from consuming Earth-2, and he has this ghostly talk with Sam. Is Sam actually with him?

He has absorbed all of the Avatars' powers, and is carrying their imprints with him. Imagine Sam as an angel on his shoulder. It isn’t entirely clear whether this is the real Sam or something Alan is hallucinating. But he has the essence of this person as part of him, as long as he has the ring on.

Jimmy Olsen shows up and does a little butt-kicking of Kalibak and Barda. Should we be surprised by him showing up with these offensive powers?

I wouldn’t say he has offensive powers. He manages to erase Barda’s armor, then gets savagely mauled. He doesn’t land a punch or injure anybody. And it isn’t a surprise. We’ve watched him progress through this entire series. It stems from the momentum he’s been building.

Still, we haven’t seen him blast things. That seems to be a level-up moment.

Yeah, it’s awesome. We’re really see him flex his muscles face to face, because he’s spent so much time behind the screen. 

What does it mean that he is made of god flesh?

It confirms he is a New God now. It changes your perspective on what he is capable of, and what role he may play in the future, including in Earth 2: Society. Again, it plays with the theme of what it means to be a New God versus being a human. Jimmy has gone from human to god. He is bridging that gap; he has been elevated. 

We previously thought the Endurance starship had been destroyed, but Sloan reveals it as A ship but not THE ship he, Terrific, Miracle, Fury and Sandman were on. So his Dimensional Camouflage seems to work, but the heroes are still kind of pissed at him.

That’s because they think he’s just killed another ship full of people. When they realize that’s not the case, and it’s just another part of his incredibly intricate escape plan — and another reflection of his deep, ongoing machinations — they back off. In fact, Mister Terrific says, "You never cease to amaze me." That’s perhaps the first nice thing ever said to Sloan. 

Back at Atom’s Haven, Oliver Queen, Thomas Wayne and Huntress get into a street crime (or Earth-2's version of street crime) fight with Brainwave. And they enlist Dick Grayson in that fight?

This is the culmination of a lot of storylines and setup. We brought in Brainwave way back in the early issues, and this continues Dick’s mentorship. He has absorbed everything he can learn from Ted Grant, and now he gets a chance to see what a full-blown hero looks like. It is fun to have Dick come face to face with that. We talked last time about how Grayson, who is still green, could ever deal with someone like Brainwave and expect to live. I laughed because you had a point. He shouldn’t expect to live through that. So it is cool to see that come together, and see that spark after Batman saves him. He picks up a batarang and you can see that moment where we see he might have a lot more road left.

Ted Grant and Brainwave see something special in Dick Grayson. Is this something Thomas Wayne will see, as well?

I can’t go too far answering that, but I will say these two pal around a little over the course of what’s left of this series. We do get to see these guys back to back, and get to measure them up. I thought that was really fun. There isn’t a lot of track left here, but things move really fast in these last issues. But the long-term relationship is something you can look for in a future series.

Is Dick Grayson pretty much the worst parent? He loses his kid, gets him back, and loses him again!

I know. Dick can’t win. I’m working on Society stuff now and it just keeps going. This kid is rough. But don’t worry, they’ll find each other.

Back to Alan Scott. He meets up with Val, Kara and Lois. He says he’s out of power and Earth-2 is lost. Is he out of the fight?

That’s his struggle. Issues 22 and 23 fit together as a one-two punch, and we figure that out immediately in the next issue. Is he finished? He used everything he had, and it wasn’t enough. It is about application of force. How do you apply it? If you can apply it in a different way, will you be able to succeed?

You’ve referred to this before, but the end of the world doesn’t mean the entire destruction of the planet. It could mean the creation of a new one, could it not?

Yeah, that’s a theme I love to play with. Technology creates and destroys at the same time. Any time you have a new future, it destroys what was there. It is a kind of apocalypse, in a way. But this looks more like a literal destruction of the world. Apokolips is closing in to eat our planet.

Anyone on the surface now, once Apokolips consumes it, could they survive?

We’re going to find that out in the next issue!

Is there anyone we can look forward to seeing in these final issues?

As this comes together at the very end, we get to see Flash more. That’s really fun. There are so many characters, and he’s a great one. 

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